Why Is Rihanna Getting Racier?

RIHANNA: GOOD GIRL GONE BADASSCourtesy GQ/Michael ThompsonHandout

Oh hey, Rihanna, are you forgetting something?

A top, perhaps? A bra? Pants?

Lately, it seems like Rihanna's over clothes. Her attire appears ripped from the closet of a dominatrix; her ensembles rival those gyrated around gentleman's clubs. As Rihanna, 21, stepped out against domestic violence following her brutal February beating by her ex-boyfriend, R&B singer Chris Brown, she also stripped down, shedding her once soft-spoken, island-girl image like a snake sloughing off its skin.

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What she shows off now appears raw and not ready for the real world.

It's not just the clothes. Judging from Rihanna's recent interviews pegged to the release of her appropriately titled album "Rated R," her penchant for baring (almost) all is inversely proportionate to her willingness to talk about Brown, what happened the night before 2009's Grammy awards, and how she's coping with the aftermath of his attack.

Rihanna in GQ's January 2010 issue.

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In early November, wrapped up in a white turtleneck, Rihanna told ABC News' Diane Sawyer, "The thing that men don't realize, when they hit a woman, it's... the face, the broken arm, the black eye, it's going to heal. That's not ... the problem. It's the scar inside. You flashback. You ... you remember it all the time. It comes back to you whether you like it or not. And it's painful. So I don't think he understood that. They never do."

But in an interview for January's issue of GQ, in which she appears nearly nude on both the cover and in the magazine's pages, Rihanna clammed up, saying she didn't "like talking about [the incident] a lot."

GQ correspondent Lisa DePaulo wrote, "You get the feeling that Rihanna still has a lot to say. Her eyes are wet when anything Chris Brown-related comes up. She has a tendency to stare off into the distance when she talks about It -- but then she meets the glare of the manager. Maybe she does want to go there -- and can't. Or perhaps it is dawning on Rihanna that to really step out and be the kind of advocate she says she wants to be is another burden altogether."

Rihanna in GQ's January 2010 issue.

Maybe it's easy for Rihanna to scowl at the camera and put her hands over her breasts -- easy, that is, in comparison to confronting the issues stemming from The Big Incident head-on, time and time again. Or perhaps playing the part of the sex pot is preferable to carrying the torch of the heartbroken, battered ex-girlfriend.

Indeed, when DePaulo switched the subject from Brown and the aftermath of the assault to fashion and Rihanna's shoot for GQ, the pop star popped open, giggling, "It's very sexy, yeah. At one point [chairman, Island Def Jam Music Group] L.A. Reid came into the shoot, and he was like, "Rihanna, put some f*****g clothes on!"

So others have noticed, too. Whatever the case, it seems that by "forgetting" her clothing, Rihanna's trying to make fans forget what happened last February, the horrific turn of events that cast a cloud on her career. Her plan could work. But one hopes she takes time to turn her attention inward, as well.

Rihanna on the cover for the first single off "Rated R," "Russian Roulette."